Friday, September 14, 2007

Namibia: Govt to Mull Male Circumcision

The Namibian (Windhoek)
13 September 2007

Brigitte Weidlich

HEALTH issues seem to dominate in Parliament this session, with blood pressure and cholesterol levels being a topic of discussion during the first day and male circumcision surfacing yesterday.

After studies were made public in March that male circumcision trials reduced the risk of HIV infection from women to men by 60 per cent in several African countries, Namibia was also considering this as a preventative measure, Health Minister Dr Richard Kamwi told the National Assembly.

Delivering a ministerial statement on the topic, Kamwi said Government health services in Namibia were presently not geared to cater for male circumcision on a large scale.

The small surgical operation entails cutting a part of the foreskin covering the penis.

"We will carry out an assessment to determine shortcomings and needs and address them properly before we embark on this new service," Kamwi stated.

"It is also important to ensure that circumcised men do not develop a false sense of security, that could cause them to engage in high-risk (sexual) behaviour," the Health Minister cautioned.

Nora Schimming-Chase of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) proposed that all male babies born in clinics could be circumcised.

Safety and Security Minister Peter Tsheehama urged that during public awareness campaigns, the difference between circumcision and castration (removing the testicles) should be well articulated.

"There was a man who went to the doctor asking to be circumcised, but his English was not so good and he confused the two terms.

He asked for a castration, but he only wanted a circumcision.

The doctor however did what his patient told him and gone was the manhood," Tsheehama said.